Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Port of East London are celebrating the triumph of the port’s Chief Engineering Technician, Sinqobile Nkabinde, who was announced as winner of the Transport, Logistics & Security category at the 7th Annual Standard Bank Rising Stars Awards in Johannesburg on 26 July 2018.

South Africa’s only river port had two out of five finalists in the category – the other being Deputy Port Engineer, Kwazelela ‘Kwazi’ Mcetywa. The awards recognise young, talented employees in the 28-40 year age category across a variety of industries and leading organisations.

Port Manager at the Port of East London, Sharon Sijako, congratulated Nkabinde on his win: “It is a fantastic achievement for this young professional from our port to have beaten hundreds of entries from across the country. We are very proud of him and glad to have played a small role in his development thus far. We also congratulate Kwazi on being among the finalists.”

Speaking after his win Nkabinde said: “It’s been overwhelming so far. I was not expecting it, but I am thrilled to have won after various stages of the awards process. The interviews in particular were grilling and when I’d completed mine I had no idea where I stood. Three panellists interrogated my personal leadership style, my values, ethics and behaviour. There was also a case study which examined the business decisions you would make if you were the director of the company in question. In addition, we had to compile a long essay outlining our personal attributes, strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and how we are working to address each of these.”

Sinqobile Nkabinde
Sinqobile Nkabinde

Nkabinde says it was a challenge to juggle the process with his busy workload at the port, however he worked on his awards submissions on weekends and after hours.

He calls the win the biggest highlight of his career so far and says he is looking forward to the networking opportunities it will bring, as well as the opportunity to mentor other young professionals entering the workplace.

Nkabinde joined the Port of East London in June 2014. He is a Professional Engineering Technologist registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). He grew up in Isipingo, Durban and attended Umlazi Comtech High School, before graduating from Durban University of Technology with a N-Diploma and then a B-Tech in Civil Engineering in 2013.

He is 32 years old, newly married with one daughter and he and his young family now call East London home.

“The Marine environment is my new sweetheart. I wasn’t familiar with the maritime industry even while growing up in Durban and my first exposure to the field came when I moved to East London,” he says.

He plans to build further on his expertise by pursuing a Masters in Coastal Engineering in the very near future.

Nkabinde began his career at WBHO as a Quality Assurance Officer for the airside team at King Shaka International Airport. He then joined emerging contractors as a Site Agent at various road construction sites. His career evolved when he ventured into the consulting industry. Thereafter, he joined Transnet, and now leads a team of young dynamic and enthusiastic engineers.

His achievements include implementing and managing an EPWP pilot project for eThekwini Municipality, which employed over 80 people and in 2012/13 was recognised as the Environmental Engineering Project of the Year at the South African Institution Of Civil Engineering (SAICE) National Awards. In 2016 he also led a group that was awarded the BMF YPDP group of the year for the EC Cohort.

He says: “My journey to the finals for the 2018 Standard Rising Stars Awards began with receiving a nomination from my manager, Owen Hensburg, Senior Engineer. It was a real honour and privilege to receive such a nomination, as for me it says that my manager as well as the Port Leadership Team recognise my efforts and they are proud to present me as one of their best candidates. Making it this far in the competition was a great honour and privilege and I’m deeply grateful for the support that I’ve received from my colleagues and management at both the port level and across TNPA. Transnet has invested a lot in my development by taking me through various courses and allowing me to work alongside my manager as part of skills transfer.”